Welsh government invites farming union presidents for urgent talks

NFU Cymru president Aled Jones said there was currently a 'deep sense of anguish' within the industry (Photo: NFU Cymru)
NFU Cymru president Aled Jones said there was currently a 'deep sense of anguish' within the industry (Photo: NFU Cymru)

The Welsh government has invited the presidents of the two main farming unions in Wales for urgent talks as anger over the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) gains momentum.

The meeting has been arranged following an urgent request from NFU Cymru, which met with Minister for Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths earlier this week.

The Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) has been invited to the next round of discussions.

It comes after 2,000 farmers attended a series of events where 'concern and worry' were raised at SFS proposals, which will roll out next year and replace direct farm payments.

Other concerns surround agricultural inputs, which are over a third higher than pre-covid times, as well as issues such as water quality regulations and bovine TB.

Meanwhile, thousands of farmers met at Carmarthen market on Thursday night (8 February) to protest against the direction of travel the industry is going in.

Organisers said more than 3,000 people attended the mart to discuss proposed funding changes they believe will hit agriculture hard.

NFU Cymru said the upcoming meeting with Ms Griffiths and the FUW would 'clearly set out our key asks'.

The union's president, Aled Jones said: “We met with the Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths on Tuesday this week to express the deep concerns of the industry.

"We left her in no doubt over the strength of feeling and seriousness of the situation following the robust feedback we have received from our series of roadshows.

"I welcome the fact that the Minister recognises the serious concerns of farmers and as such has agreed to meet and look at ways to address these issues."

A recent impact assessment, commissioned by the Welsh government, examined the impact of its SFS proposals.

Based on the potential economic effects of the previous 2022 outline proposals for the SFS, the modelling predicted a near 11% fall in livestock numbers, representing 122,000 units.

There would also be an 11% cut in labour on Welsh farms – the equivalent of losing 5,500 jobs based on current employment levels on farms.

Having travelled the length and breadth of Wales in the past week, Mr Jones said it was 'clear' that the SFS was causing 'a deep sense of anguish' among farmers.

“NFU Cymru will take the concerns of the industry directly to the Minister at our meeting, and we will clearly set out our key asks," he added.